November 21, 2019
There is only about a month left for me here and finals exams are in three weeks and I have projects due in two weeks. With so much to do and trying to study as much of the language as I can before I leave, I’m not sure if I’ll have time to go out until after exams are over. I leave Korea on December 21 and will be landing back in MN on the same day, as Minnesota is fifteen hours behind (if not for daylight savings, fourteen hours). The time difference is one important thing to remember when traveling anywhere, so it’s something to keep in mind if you want to contact family back home. This month I did a lot and tried to fit everything I really wanted to do within the few weeks I had free time.
The first place I went to this month was Namsan Tower. I’d say this is a must visit place when you’re in Korea and is a very popular tourist attraction. The tower can be seen from multiple parts of Seoul, depending on where you are. Namsan Tower is also a popular place where couples go and buy a lock to keep their promise to stay together forever. You write your name and the other person’s name on the lock and maybe a little message on it. Once you’re done, you lock the lock somewhere on the tower or railings and throw away the key, signifying that you and the other person will be locked together too. It doesn’t have to necessarily be a lover. It can be a group of friends, family, etc. When you get to the tower, you can either choose to go up by a rail cart or take the stairs. We took the stairs. There were a lot of stairs we had to climb, but we eventually made it to the top and the view was amazing. I went on a day with bad weather though, rain and fog. It would’ve been better if we went on a day with clear skies, but we were in Seoul and decided to go anyways knowing the weather was bad because we don’t know when the next time we could come is. Once we got to the top I purchased a lock for ten-thousand Korean won ($8.50 USD). When you look out from the top of the tower, you can see so much of Seoul. This is one of my favorite places in Seoul.
I’m glad I’m in Korea when BTS has just opened their ‘House of BTS Pop-Up Shop’ in October. I got a chance to go see it and grab some merchandise for my family back home and myself. I got to the location an hour before they opened and there were still people forming lines even a month after opening. I waited in line for about two hours. Once I got in I took a look around at the products and got to take some awesome photos at the photo zones set up. I spent at least a good hour inside, maybe a bit longer.
Another place I visited this month was the COEX Mall, in Gangnam, Seoul. This mall amazed me by it’s size. I feel like it’s much bigger than the Mall of America, and it doesn’t have an inside amusement park either. There are so many places to eat and shop inside. They have a movie theater and aquarium too and the aquarium pass is 10% off for foreigners. There are multiple levels to the mall, but due to time and wanting to go see other places, we could only barely get through looking around one floor. From there we walked to SMTOWN, which is right next to COEX. I took more photos here and loved this place, especially as a fan. SMTOWN is by SM Entertainment and holds artists such as EXO, Red Velvet, NCT, and many more. They displayed their awards from shows here and sell their albums here. They also have their artist museum here and a cafe near the top floor with themed artist goods. Inside the cafe, there are tables and chairs signed by the artists themselves when they visited. I didn’t get a chance to see the museum as we were on a tight schedule. It does cost to enter the museum though, but I forgot to look at the price. I’d suggest for anyone who wants to visit the COEX Mall to make sure to reserve a whole day for it since it’s such a huge place that it’ll take time to get through the whole mall. I definitely want to go back and also see the aquarium. Starfield Library is in between SMTOWN and COEX. It’s the biggest library in Korea with over fifty-thousand books and very tall bookshelves. The biggest library I’ve ever been in. We only passed through it to get back, but I got some photos of what it looks like inside.
I got to go back to Myeongdong in Seoul afterwards. I don’t remember where exactly we walked to, but it was underground where you would enter to take the subway and we came across a Gundam store, to anyone who’s a fan of this anime series. It was at an awkward location underground around the Myeongdong area. Right across from the Gundam store is a K-pop store. They aren’t really in two separate rooms. When entering, it’s one huge room. What stuck out the most to me here is the touchable screens and walls. They displayed Korean idols and you can choose your favorite idol to be displayed. We did some more shopping there and ate great food afterwards. I think one thing about Korean food is that it almost always has some type of vegetable. They give side dishes for free too and probably depending where you go, there’s unlimited side dish refills. I can say that I will miss the food when I come back home.
I visited a palace in Seoul too. I forgot the name of the specific palace, but there’s more than one in Korea and in different cities. There’s even one in Asan, not too far from Soonchunhyang University. These palaces have been in Korea for a long time and say a lot about their history. I’ve always wanted to see one in person since I watch plenty of Korean historical dramas. Walking around the palace made me feel like I was a part of the history, surrounded by unique architecture and getting a feel for what it was like to live in such a place. I would also suggest to visit at least one palace when coming to Korea as it’s part of their culture and history.
From here I’ll begin studying for finals. I’m taking five classes, three of them in Korean language. I want to learn as much of the language and culture as I can while I’m here since it is Korea and I really want to become fluent in the language. I’m excited to come back home, but I know I’ll also miss the people I met here and the country. There’s so many things that are different and the same compared to back home. One thing about studying abroad is that it can change you. I’ve been told by my family that I’ve changed positively and have become more open-minded. They are also excited to have me come back and tell them about my time studying in South Korea.
Last modified: November 25, 2019